More tales from I-Bike 1996............
The Interbike goings on for 1996 were to be something special. Schwinn was holding its 100th Birthday Party with a parade of "Elvis Impersonators", one for every year they were around. I remember watching them march in to the Las Vegas Convention Center and it was rather like a circus. Father Guido Sarducci, of Saturday Night Live fame, was the leader and once the parade was over, the good father gave a speech. It was not much like what I would have expected a bicycle show to be, but this was in Las Vegas, afterall!
Afterwards, the GT Airshow was up. I just love the half pipe madness and skills of the 20"er riders. I don't get too pumped up about things in general, but those Airshow freaks get me going everytime. Too bad I couldn't have watched an Airshow before each one of my highschool football games!
Then there was a few guys that took Schwinn Orange Krate 20"ers with the sissy bars, high rise handle bars, and all on the halfpipe! It was pretty cool to see how far the riders were willing to take things on these sketchy rigs.
Finally, there was a trials show and for the life of me, I can not remember who the rider was, but he was incredible! The guy could straight bunny hop from the ground to the hood of a car and then in one continous motion would ride up onto the roof of the car and wheelie hop back down to the ground. I guess by now everyone has seen this stuff on You Tube or wherever, but try and recall that back in 1996, there weren't such luxuries. To be able to see this live was a real treat then. Maybe ho-hum nowadays, I suppose.
I suppose there were bicycles to be seen there as well, but I really do not remember many. The activities surrounding the show, and the nightlife were more memorable for me. The most memorable story actually came on the last night we were there.
Tom was insistent that I was going to gamble while we were there. I insisted that I would rather set my money on fire than gamble. So, the last evening we were in the Imperial's gaming room, and Tom was hitting the one armed bandits again. He looked at me, shoved a 20 in my hand and said, "Now go gamble!" I figured it wasn't my money, and that I should appease him, so I relented. I picked a likely machine and wished that I would blow through the 20 spot so I could get this over with. I figured it wouldn't take all that long. Tom had scurried off to another "hot" machine, and left me to my business.
Bing! KaChing! Boop! Boop! Boop! kaaaaachinnnggg! I had hit a jackpot. Oh crap! Now I had more money to blow through! Tom came rushing over, unable to contain himself, or form a coherent sentence. I looked at him and he scooped a bunch of the chips up and scurried away again like a child with stolen cookies. Meh! Well, at least I could just cash out what was left and not blow it in these stupid machines. I had a few quarters left too, so I went to another machine and sat down. Well, wouldn't ya know it, but I struck a small jackpot on that machine too. Probably within five minutes of getting the first one. Tom came over again, wanting to pick up the chips.
I said, "Wait a minute, didn't you just have a handfull?"
Tom replied, "Yeah, yeah, but they're all gone now, and...."
Whoa dude! I stopped him, said to him, ""Look, we've got about a hundred and fifty left, right? Let's go over to the bar, get a couple of beers, and we'll take the rest home, okay?"
Tom agreed. And you know what? We had the best time talking and hanging out on that night that I ever had with him. That's one of my chief memories of Tom right there, and how I knew that deep down inside, here was a really cool, nice man.
The next day we hit up a cheapo-buffet for breakfast and hit the airport for that doomed plane ride home. (Or so I thought) I recall when they closed the airway behind us, I said to Tom, "Do you hear that?" Tom replied with, "What? I don't hear anything." I said, "Exactly!" No more gambling machines.
Silence is truly golden!
And as we came back into Cedar Falls, I recall the gold, orange, and red of the leaves as we flew over the city. Somehow I knew there was an ending coming. More than the end of this trip. Something bigger was about to end. A change, like the change of seasons.
I was right about that on so many levels...............
Next Week: So, do you go on RAGBRAI?
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